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Thursday, 26 October 1905

The PRESIDENT - I am very much afraid that a great many honorable senators have altogether misunderstood the effect of my ruling. I never ruled, and I never intended to rule, that in a machinery Bill like this, to alter, so far as regards machinery, the principal Act, machinery provisions not referred to in it cannot be altered. I do not think that honorable senators will find in what I said, anything to warrant them in giving such an effect to either of my rulings. I am as strong as any honorable senator possibly can be in my desire to uphold the rights of the Senate, and to give the Committee of the Senate as much power to alter Bills put before it as is consistent, in my opinion, with the working out of our system of government. I do not think it is right that the Committee should be cramped to such a degree as some honorable senators have supposed that it will be cramped by the effect of my ruling. I understand that Senator Millen has moved, or wishes to move, a certain amendment which is contained in a printed paper before me. I cannot say with what he is going to follow up the amendment before the Committee, and I am not going to give any ruling on an amendment that is not before me.

Senator Best - He explained his purpose.

The PRESIDENT - I cannot give a ruling on hypothetical cases. All that I have to rule on is this : Is the amendment which Senator Millen has. attempted to move, as contained in the paper before me, so relevant to the subject-matter of the Bill under consideration that it can be moved ?

Senator Best - Surely, sir, you cannot ignore-

The PRESIDENT - I do; because I am not going to give prophetical rulings. I am going to rule on an amendment which has been proposed. The principal Act says -

The Governor-General mav appoint one person in each State to be the Commissioner for the purpose of distributing the State into divisions in accordance with this Act.

Senator Millenproposes that, instead of one person, there shall be three persons. Surely that is an amendment relevant to the subject-matter of the Bill.

Senator Pearce - No persons are mentioned in the Bill.

The PRESIDENT -But the Act says -

The Governor-General may appoint one person.

Senator Pearce - There is no mention of any person in the Bill.

The PRESIDENT - I do not think that has anything to do with the question.

Senator Pearce - That is what we argued this afternoon.

The PRESIDENT - Oh, dear me, no ! This is a Bill to alter electoral machinery, and any amendment relative to electoral machinery can be moved. I never said anything to the contrary. Any electoral machinery, whether provided for in the principal Act or not, can be altered by the Committee on this Bill.

Senator Best - Do you say, sir, that Senator O' Keefe' s amendment did not deal with electoral machinery ?

The PRESIDENT - I said that Senator O'Keefe's amendment involved a farreaching principle of great importance, and that it did not deal with electoral machinery ; that was the whole gist of my argu ment. However, I shall not refer to that subject. All I have to decide is whether the amendment, which is in print, may be moved by Senator Millen, and I think it may.

In Committee:

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